Norfolk car manufacturer Zenos Cars goes into administration after cancelled export orders
- Credit: BBC World Wide/Mark Yeoman
A Norfolk manufacturer whose sports cars featured in the latest series of Top Gear has gone into administration, after suffering from a spate of cancelled orders.
Zenos Cars, based near Wymondham, appointed administrators Begbies Traynor on Monday, leaving a question mark hanging over the future of the company's 20-plus employees.
A worker said staff were sent home early on Friday, then called together on Monday and told the company had entered administration. The premises have been closed since then, the worker said. It is understood administrators are looking to sell the business as a going concern.
Begbies Traynor said the business had suffered a 'recent downturn in trade', and that cancelled export orders late last year had 'resulted in a shortfall in funding, forcing the business to cease trading'.
Zenos Cars managing director Mark Edwards said: 'It is with great disappointment that the board has had to take this step.
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'We still believe that our products offer unrivalled affordable fun and we have already made very good progress in developing the next product in our strategy.'
Joint administrator Irvin Cohen said: 'We are currently open to speaking with parties interested in securing a future for the business and would request that any enquiries are made directly with our London office.'
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Zenos Cars was founded in 2012 at Hethel Engineering Centre, where research and development for the company's cars was carried out, before it moved to its current site to begin production.
Its founders set themselves the challenge of building a sports car for road or track use at an affordable price, with models starting at less than £30,000.
Last summer the company launched a campaign to raise £750,000 of private investment on the crowdfunding platform Seedrs, which it said it wanted to use to expand further and take on up to eight new staff.
In 2016, Zenos Cars had expected to build around 100 cars – double the previous year's total – and was targeting raising production to around 500 cars a year by 2020. Around half the cars built are sold to Europe, America, Japan and China.
The company received a boost when its E10S model was featured in the latest series of the BBC series Top Gear, when it was driven by host Chris Evans.
He described the lightweight car as 'Darth Vader's weekend wheels', adding: 'If Mo Farah was a car he may well be a Zenos; supreme performance with a bare minimum of skin and bone to slow him down.'